Skip to content | Accessibility Information

Two letters & a postscript video still Qasim Riza Shaheen 2017

Two letters & a postscript video still (image: Qasim Riza Shaheen)

Asia Triennial Manchester 2018 theme revealed as 'Who do you think you are?'

21 September 2018

Europe's only Triennial dedicated to Asian visual art is directed by Alnoor Mitha

The programme for Asia Triennial Manchester (ATM18) has been announced, Europe’s only Triennial dedicated to visual art on the theme of Asia.

The fourth edition of ATM18 has the central curatorial theme of 'Who do you think you are?', a reframing of 'Where are you from?' – the ambiguous and impossible demand so often encountered by people of colour in a post-industrial, multi-cultural city in the UK.

Manchester School of Art is a partner in ATM18, and the festival's artistic director is Alnoor Mitha, Senior Research Fellow at Manchester School of Art, Manchester Metropolitan University. 

From a radical feminist response to European exotic fantasies of South Asia, to a spectacular public procession that invites us explore how communities evolve through shared rituals, ATM18 reframes existing narratives around Asian identities as they intersect with contemporary debates around gender and sexuality, community and migration, technology and humanity.

Lucas Chih-Peng Kao - FaeryTrails

Focusing on young and mid-career artists from South Korea, Japan, Thailand, China, Sri Lanka and the UK, while fostering international and local curatorial collaborations and new partnerships, ATM18 seeks to questions how Asian identities are constructed and understood in an accelerating world of mass migration, disputed borders and conflicting ideologies.

Alnoor Mitha, Artistic Director and Senior Research Fellow in Asian Cultures at Manchester School of Art, Manchester Metropolitan University, said: “The fourth edition of Asia Triennial Manchester brings critical engagement with the foremost UK and international artists about contemporary societal issues that question our individual mindsets about belonging and identity.

"This provocation reaffirms ongoing debates about migration, and the politics of current thinking about Brexit. All this can be unfolded through new artistic commissions at multiple sites throughout partner venues across Greater Manchester.”

Our mother & the women who fed us rice - (image:Joey Barlow)

Sarah Perks, ATM Chair and Artistic Director for Visual Arts at HOME, said: “The return of this festival is so important as it unites a set of fantastic venues across Greater Manchester together and some truly amazing artists.

"ATM18 represents a change from previous as it focuses on performance to make it live and real for audiences; you don’t get months to wander round – you have to join us in the moment! ‘Who do you think you are?’ is a provocation from us, I think we need to try to find new ways to debate and talk about our complicated identities, histories and of course, our futures.”

ATM18 will open on 5 October 2018 with an evening of performances at HOME, and will run for two weeks, offering a diverse programme of free performances and special events by contemporary visual artists at ATM partner venues across Greater Manchester, including a one-day symposium at The Whitworth.

Opening Night

Friday, 5 October, 2018 at HOME, Manchester

18:30 Masumi Saito’s performance KOMA

London-based Japanese artist Masumi Saito explores the theme ‘Who do you think you are?’ through a participatory performance, where the audience is triggered to reflect on notions of physicality and identity. KOMA presents subversive elements that allow Masumi to alter the audience’s role in this experience.

19:15 Qasim Riza Shaheen’s The day after the day before I sinned

Poignantly adorned and costumed, five brides wait, in anticipation, for rites of passage, which in this work, shifts our attention from the actual beloved to an imagined one. Using live and audio soundtracks, Qasim’s five brides-in-waiting lip sync and gesture through archetypes of longing and desire.

Festival highlights

Fa & Fon: Our mother and the women who fed us rice is a homage to Fa & Fon’s own acceptance of their heritage, finally, after having been bought up and influenced in a cultural background that judges Thai immigrants in a certain manner, stereotyping all Thai women immigrants as mail order brides or sex workers. (6 October 2018) HOME, Manchester

Lucas Chih-Peng Kao’s THE FAERY TRAILS at Bury Art Museum. Responding to the fantasy artwork of Arthur Rackham, the early films of the Lumière Brothers and the absence of non-white bodies in the history of art, Lucas Chih-Peng Kao's Faery Trails will create a site-specific experience reinterpreting traditional western folklore. (6 – 23 February 2019)

On Wednesday 10 October, Chinese artist Han Bing will lead a public procession from Manchester Cathedral, through the city, ending at HOME. With each member of the procession wearing the flags of different nations worn draped around their shoulders, the artist addresses the question of how to smooth the conflicts between our individual identities and our role as a member of a community – or a citizen of a country – without erasing the differences that make us unique. As nationalist politics are on the rise across the world, Han Bing asks, who has the right to belong? And what must be erased or assimilated in order to become part of a collective?

Poet Anjum Malik, Lecturer in Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University, will be working with school children and with mothers on the Hidden Heroes project. The movement of people leaving their homelands can be both traumatic and exhilarating. It brings new opportunities and experiences, unforeseen challenges and hurdles. It demands agility, creativity and thinking on your feet. Within this chaos and change are Hidden Heroes who rise without being seen and take care of all around. These heroes are young sons, daughters and mothers, wives, sisters. Anjum’s projects explore and shine a light on their stories through the mediums of writing and also, with the collaboration of artist Amina Ansari, through portraiture.

Jai Chuhan’s paintings often involve an isolated figure in a room-like space, as an arena for exploring existential themes such as refuge, love, conflict, birth and death. She describes her aesthetic influences as “transcultural”, inspired by her position as an Indian-born British artist. She will have a solo show Refuge at Gallery Oldham (15 September – 24 November 2018) which will connect withRemodel:Painting Studio at HOME (15– 21 October 2018) where Jai Chuhan will spend a week making paintings in HOME’s gallery in an open studio, an immersive space suffused with colour and sound. Visitors are invited to participate in life-drawing classes. Full details on the ATM Facebook page.

Other participating artists at ATM18: William Titley, Romina de Novellis, Kosuke Iizawa, Yuka Otani, Naomi Kashiwagi, Saima Rasheed, Hyunkoo LEE, Jeung-Soon IM, Jimok CHOI, Risa Takita, Eunmi Kim, Sam Buckley, Insook Choi, Joe Hartley, Eunji Briller Kim, Eunmi Kim, John Powell-Jones, Hyun Min Shin, Gae-Hwa Lim, Gyung-Kyun Shin, Aziz Ibrahim, Halima Cassell, Venuri Perera.